Tuesday, April 16, 2024

NVIDIA SHIELD TV Pro Review

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NVIDIA sent us the SHIELD Android TV Pro a few weeks ago for review. It’s the brand’s $200 flagship Android TV box, and I’m sure you’re wondering, why would you pay that much for an Android TV box when there are so many cheaper alternatives?

For starters, it has been discovered that many of those cheap boxes are running malware. That’s why it’s important to buy an Android TV box from a reputable brand such as NVIDIA or Google. So, why spend $200 when the Chromecast with Google TV can be had for much less? I’ll be covering that and more in this review.

Features

A couple of years ago I reviewed the Chromecast with Google TV here at the site, and while I liked Google’s Android TV box, I found I outgrew it over time.

One of the biggest complaints amongst users is the lack of storage space. It is extremely easy to overwhelm Google’s streaming box with apps due to the limited storage space.

I’ve personally had to remove and reinstall apps as I shuffle through streaming services and it’s a tedious routine that no one should have to endure.

The NVIDIA SHIELD TV Pro comes with double the storage space of the Chromecast with Google TV and an additional gigabyte of RAM. This provides you with better performance and plenty of space to load it up with streaming apps.

Additionally, there are two USB Type-A 3.0 ports making it quick and easy to add more storage and a dedicated Ethernet port. If you’re a fan of local media, then this is perfect for running Kodi or Plex.

Speaking of Plex, the SHIELD TV Pro is capable of running a Plex server. No longer will you need to keep a PC up and running just to access your Plex files on your TV or other devices. All of this makes the SHIELD TV Pro a game-changer for fans of Plex.

When it comes to updates, it’s worth noting that NVIDIA has a good track record. The SHIELD TV Pro was released in 2019 and it is currently running Android TV 11. That puts it one version behind the Chromecast with Google TV, and while there’s no word on when or if version 12 is coming to the SHIELD TV Pro, NVIDIA has been known to skip a version like when it went straight from 9 to 11.

Fortunately, all the apps I tried work without issue and that’s more than I can say for my aging Android TV that hasn’t seen an update in years and now requires an external box to run most apps.

One of the SHIELD TV Pro’s standout features is its AI-powered upscaling. I tested this out with a few different videos and apps, and I must say, there is a substantial difference between turning it off and on.

Videos were clearly sharper and displayed more clarity. It works great for enhancing HD content that you own or stream, but it appears to be disabled with most 4K content because it is unnecessary. Pictures don’t do it justice, so you’ll just have to believe me when I say there’s a noticeable difference when it’s enabled.

While I spent most of my time testing out the SHIELD TV Pro with the Casiris A6 projector I recently reviewed, I also tried it out with my TV to test out Dolby Vision support, and it looked stunning.

With Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos, you’ll get superb audio and video quality with streaming sources that support it. However, the SHIELD TV lacks HDR10+ compatibility. Thankfully, not many services use HDR10+, but Amazon Prime is one of the big ones that chooses to use HDR10+ over Dolby Vision. It’s important to know you’ll only have access to HDR10 without the benefits of HDR10+ with the SHIELD TV Pro.

Remote

The SHIELD TV Pro comes with the most uniquely shaped remote I’ve ever seen. I wasn’t sure how it would feel, but the triangle-shaped remote fits in your hand perfectly, and there’s a decent amount of heft to it which makes it feel great to hold.

I’ve come to enjoy using it a lot more than the remote that comes with the Chromecast with Google TV, which I initially liked, but soon found it far too light and slippery. I cannot count the number of times it has fallen off of the armrest or slipped out of my hand. I’ve had no such problems with the remote for the SHIELD TV Pro.

Besides the ergonomics, the SHIELD TV Pro remote offers backlit buttons and a microphone for use with Google Assistant. The backlight was a welcomed feature for all of the late-night binge-watching, and my only complaint would be the lack of a mute button.

There’s also an IR blaster built into the remote for controlling other devices in your media center, however, I found that the CEC controls worked well enough for my needs. Regardless, it’s still nice to know you have options.

Final thoughts

The NVIDIA SHIELD TV Pro is a premium Android streaming box that delivers on almost every front. It provides snappy performance, plenty of storage space for all the streaming apps, expandable storage options, built-in Plex support, AI-enhanced upscaling, and a remote with a backlight.

The only drawbacks I could find was the lack of HDR10+ support and its one version behind on the Android TV software. These won’t be dealbreakers for many, and they certainly wouldn’t be for me, but these may bother some given the $200 price point.

Despite these minor qualms, the NVIDIA SHIELD TV Pro stands out as one of the most feature-rich Android TV streaming boxes in the market.

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